Joe Budden Needs to Leave Lil Yachty’s Happy Ass Alone

Lil Yachty (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Lil Yachty (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Like many reading this, I didn’t know what the hell a Lil Yachty was until a younger person explained it to me. Then I listened to him and immediately went back to playing classic artists like Future and Rihanna. “No Child Left Behind” rap isn’t always my thing. However, if there is one thing I know as a Southerner who loves Southern rap and is familiar with the coastal snobs who trashed what I cherish most, it’s to not repeat their mistakes.


Unfortunately, not everyone is as accommodating.

On Wednesday the Atlanta native made an appearance on Complex’s Everyday Struggle web series, hosted by Joe Budden. For the entire interview, Budden picked Yachty apart.

While addressing the artwork of Yachty’s new album, Budden said:

I don’t think that Yachty is hip-hop. I don’t think that Yachty’s label is hip-hop. When you’re not hip-hop and you’re trying to just troll or exploit, you get things like this.

I’ve read other critiques of the Teenage Emotions album cover. Complaints about two gay white men kissing, as opposed to two black men, are understandable, but cries of cultural appropriation, not so much. Two men kissing isn’t culture, and if the aim is to be inclusive, as many claim, that’s inclusivity (with white folks, oddly enough, but still).

Budden’s main gripe is that it isn’t real, but there are plenty o’ rappers who have been fake as fuck for decades now. Their lies were far more harmful than what Yachty just presented to the world. What was really interesting to watch, though, was Mr. “Pump It Up” losing his shit over Yachty’s claim, “I am happy every day because life is moving in such a positive way, I can’t get slowed down.”


Yachty is a famous rapper with minimal skill living the dream. He has no reason to appear as bitter as the likes of Joe Budden, who shape-shifts back and forth between being the Hannibal Lecter of hip-hop and the Statler and Waldorf of rap: two for the price of one.

The latter won this time, with Budden challenging him:

Let me tell you how humans are. Feelings are fickle. What that means is they come and they go. Nobody is one thing forever. You cannot tell me … you would be lying to tell me that, as a young man in this industry—in this industry, in the music business—you are happy 24-7! That is a lie!! That is bullshit and I refuse to have someone tell me bullshit! I want to have an honest conversation.


Is Lil Yachty the best catalyst for a chat on the limitations of striving to always maintain a positive attitude? Did Joe Budden forget this is a 19-year-old? All of the superficial reasons Yachty cited to validate his happiness gave me “typical teenager barely into adulthood.”

On why he’s so happy:

When you come from a college-dorm room with no money, you scamming credit cards and you aint’ gettin’ no play from no girls, you have no clothes, you have no car … and you come to having three [or] four cars, you have millions of dollars, a half-million dollars on your body just to wear and any kind of clothes you want, any hos you want, how could you be upset?


Again, Yachty sometimes raps like his tongue is taking a nap, but he’s poppin’ right now all the same. He has no reason to act like he’s in a monogamous relationship with misery. But I suppose when you’re in a rush to transfer your cynicism, you let reason go for the sake of your personal cause.

To wit, Budden claimed that Yachty must have had media training to craft these responses, but Yachty shot back, proving how nice it is to walk around not being a contemptuous asshole. Budden also poked at his business dealings with the record label (Yachty has since clarified whether he has a 360 deal via Twitter). Budden tried to refute any potential criticism that he was being an angry old head, claiming, “I was you last decade. I was dissing Wu-Tang.” Budden is referring to the time Yachty told Billboard magazine that he could not name five songs by 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G., only to later deem Biggie “overrated.”


Maybe, but Budden didn’t want to help Yachty; he wanted to embarrass him, because that’s what Joe Budden does. See his stint on Love & Hip Hop: New York. Also see his Twitter timeline.

Thankfully, Yachty didn’t take the bait.

Lil Yachty has a couple of catchy songs, but in terms of skill, he makes Silkk the Shocker look like Nas. But who cares? The more interviews and profiles you find of him, the more harmless he appears.


Yachty’s star will either continue to rise or he will join Trinidad James on the ever-expanding list of artists whom desperate labels overpaid in search of a breakout star. With respect to his present “I am so happy to be here” stance, life will happen to him, so let it run its course. And get over what you think he’s doing to the culture. The reality is, those who make that kind of argument about a much younger act fail to realize that the culture has already moved beyond them anyway.

Yachty walks around grinning with red hair as he meets girls, buys clothes and makes money. Meanwhile, some of y’all are huffing and puffing about why he needs to turn his smile upside down and turn on Rakim as you bitch and moan about “real rap” like it’s a 2001 message board 57-page thread.


Leave him alone. Leave him alone. Leave Lil Yachty’s happy ass alone.

Michael Arceneaux is the author of "I Can't Date Jesus," which will be released July 24, 2018 by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, but go ahead and pre-order it now.



Yachty is trash (as is Future, Thugga, and the rest of the mumble rap all-stars), but he’s 19 years old. We, as old heads, have to let these young cats cook.